True Wealth: A Story of Material Sacrifice
The Bahá’í Faith is abundant with stories of material sacrifices made by individual believers of all backgrounds. These accounts are truly descriptions of demonstrations of love. Below is the story of Mr. Thomas Breakwell. Mr. Breakwell was the first Englishman to visit the Holy Land as a Bahá’í pilgrim and he was the first Bahá’í in the West to pay Huqúqu'lláh. He died at the age of 30 and had only been a Bahá’í for one year. His sole desire, after declaring his belief, was to please ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. For many of us, Mr. Breakwell’s life offers an example of obedience to the Will of God and of dedication to fighting the battles of materialism and self. We hope you find his story as inspiring as we do!
Thomas Breakwell enjoyed the unique distinction of being the first Englishman to make a journey to the Holy Land as a Bahá'í pilgrim. When he was ushered into the presence of the Master, May Maxwell recounted, "that immediately Breakwell recognized his Lord." In the interview with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Thomas explained how he enjoyed substantial remuneration from his work in the United States but he expressed a sudden conviction of sin when he added that the mills were run on child labor. The Master looked at him gravely and silently, and then said, "Cable your resignation.” May Maxwell's account tells how Thomas obeyed ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at once. With one stroke, he cut all ties to his former life…he now only had one desire, to please the Master. After returning to Paris, although he had been used to living fairly comfortably, Thomas completely changed his way of life. He returned to his studies, and went to live in an inexpensive neighborhood. Although Thomas lived a long way from the city center, he used always to go on foot to the Bahá'í meetings, in order to save his fare and make his contribution to the teaching work in Paris. He was the first Bahá'í in the West to pay Huqúqu'lláh, the Right of God. No care for the future ever oppressed his mind. He had but one concern: to serve humanity until his last breath. After contracting tuberculosis Thomas Breakwell breathed his last at seven p.m. on June 13th, 1902. He was 30 years of age and had only been a Bahá'í for one year. Though he died in relative obscurity in a poor quarter of Paris, he was described by ‘Abdu'l-Bahá as ' a lamp amid angels of High Heaven.' [Taken from The Life of Thomas Breakwell by Rajwantee Lakshiman-Lepain, p. 27-44]
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